Skip to main content

tv   Book TV  CSPAN  November 7, 2010 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

7:00 pm
professor of queen's university belfast examines the british secret intelligence service, mi6, from 1909 to 1949. mr. keith jeffery recalls the relationship between mi6 and the white house as well as its covert operations inside the united states. he profiles members of the service, which included authors epigram greene and somerset long. he discusses his book on an hourlong event hosted by politics and prose bookstore in
7:01 pm
washington, d.c.. >> i am the historian of the >> am a international spotlight museum. it's a pleasure to be here. i would like to say that i've been at the speed museum 11 years. that is a mistake. i would like to take credit for that. of course we of thenternatial sy international spy museum it wass an obvious when we heard that mi6 was going to be doing unauthorized history, it was an obvious thing to get on board-6d with and when the chance came of working together with politics and prose we of course jump on it beconause like all of thinkih people in the washington area wf are enormous fans of your work k here. i would say we had the sa opportunity at the spy museum to record a podcast with professor podcast with professor keith jeffery and it is wonderful to be the venue. if you are interested in the spy museum and defense there is literature in the back i would highlight the november
7:02 pm
november 2nd event at highlighting the mumbai terrorist attacks. our real test keith jeffery i would like to make a personal note, professor jeffrey was part of the committee of the, had to defend my phd dissertation earlier this year ff and he has some extremely tough probing questions on someone who believes turnabout is fair play 90 expect you to ask equally tough and probing questions. [laughter] but he passed me so i expect your questions to be fair. but like to get off the stage and thank you to politics and prose to work with you and let's get this started. [applause] >> first, i want to introduce a surge on scarlet
7:03 pm
who was recently retired about one year ago as the retired chief since they don't say director in britain -- britain. mi-6. sir john was one who commissioned the history of mi-6 back in 2005 for i just heard it was around the middle of 2009 it was then delivered so it is about a four and a half year effort that we have here. i want to welcome keith jeffery to has come to talk about his new book. he is a professor of history from queen's university in
7:04 pm
belfast and was commissioned and the secret intelligence service is a proper name as i understand it mi-6 was the cover name as adopted from the second world war and just stock and james bond has done his part bidding inter-american muybridge. the book is a history of the first 40 years the secret service theo's very strongly that all of the activity post 1949 are still too close back in our history to be accessed by the public.
7:05 pm
so this evening we will have an evening of disguises and forgery and invisible ink. which were the stock and trade of mi-6 and as one of the members, i don't think the was strictly a member but a friend of many members was ian fleming. and he spent a lot of time with these spies and one of the wants was harry charismatic and his name was wilfred. he had a fluent russian speaker and in the 1930's
7:06 pm
head of the paris station and was known for chasing pretty women and driving fast cars and for his tremendous charm and savoir-faire, wilfred would sit and tell ian fleming a lot of the venture's of his, his secret adventures come by then at one point* he told the in funding that it seems the stories he had been telling him showed up in the next movie of james bond. [laughter] james bond is certainly the one who made spying a known activity in this country. so here are two gentlemen here, a scholar and a spy.
7:07 pm
sir john o.r. professor jeffrey. who would like to start? >> it is a fantastic and wonderful privilege to be in this famous bookstore because everywhere i went down and they said what you're doing in the united states and i say i am going to this the bookstore you would not have heard of it. politics and prose. politics and prose? everybody goes there. [laughter] jimmy carter, there is a silver lining. [laughter] i got on and the diane programme even then i was disposed and i hope he will come to promote his book.
7:08 pm
but we will just chat a little bit about this work for a bit but we want to give you time to ask questions. we may anticipate similar questions that you want to ask but we have to see how widows. but not too much longer than 30 minutes and we might just talk around the subject a bit and i want to ask sir john, why on earth does this organization commissioned the work in the first place? >> it is not as obvious as it may seem in the united states because perhaps as many of you will know, of the culture around intelligence work in the united kingdom has been fundamentally different and also very, very secretive. the service has made an
7:09 pm
obsession or passion of secrecy. secret service only the secret things. if not secret it should not we doing it. [laughter] that has always been the profound logic but it is not always followed by other secret service. [laughter] there is a good reason for that because generally the lifeblood of the business if you don't have the ability to keep your secrets, something that is true generally and our profession, it was not obvious to rights or authorize the history and allow an >> allow an outsider who we had no control into our service
7:10 pm
archive. that's, so why did we do it? well, when it came to it in 2005, chief of the service for a few months, but the issue as to whether we should be doing something like this was on the table and the idea had been around for awhile, it just not had taken a precise form of security service and we're on the way of getting it ready for 2009. in 2009, makes this by some distance the oldest, continually acting intelligence service in the world. now, in addition to the fact that we were secret and needed to protect our secrets, and that we had this very long history, almost uniquely so for intelligence service, we also had need maybe is too strong of a word, but a strong requirement to find a better way of
7:11 pm
explaning to the great british public what it was what we did. what was the purpose of the intelligence service? what did it do? what did it not do? what was its role in government? what were its objectives? what were its methods in general terms, and what was its character and psychology? the reason i say that is that in the united kingdom, the intelligence service has been for many years an important part of government, and that is certainly no less the case now and probably more the case than it's ever been, and in government now, of course, you need to be transparent. it is a genuine, appropriate form of accountability. it's difficult to be transparent about what you do if you're secret. [laughter] as a result of this, of course, has been a great number of myths have risen up around our service. there's been several references
7:12 pm
already this evening around james bond. competitive advantage, he will say -- of course he says my services benefited greatly from that. for a secret organization that for a long time didn't exist, we also has been to be one of the most famous organizations in the world. [laughter] there's quite a lot of contradiction inherent in our history and in our existence. we have that myth whether we like it or not, it's there. we don't have to encourage it. it's there. actually, my own view has always been, a slielgtly personal -- slightly personal view, it is unhelpful, and i certainly feel profoundly it is not a good idea to base your professional activity and reputation on a myth. it leads to, well, for example, the myth is that we have a license to kill.
7:13 pm
okay, fine. we are slightly laugh that off even if people believe it. if you have a license to kill, you have a license to torture. it's not surprising you can get off on all sorts of things if they believe those myths. i feel a strong need to put that right. how do you do that without breech -- breaching the needs of secrecy? well, we have a long history. you bring these needs together to bring facts about the past in a way people can see is relevant today on to the table, and how do you do that while retaining confidence? you bring in an outsider, somebody over whom you have no control, somebody of authority in the field and a historian of the concern, and somebody known to be of independent judgment. you let him loose in the archive with unrestricted access, absolutely vital there's
7:14 pm
unrestricted access, and his brief is to write the full story of the service within the period decided. it has to be a full story. you can't say, you know, we're going to not allow you to write a big story or or a big aspect here, otherwise his credibility is undermind. that's the logic that led us to 1909-1949. that's set up for you and for everybody else here what the policy decision was here, and of course, the press has to be as it worked hasn't been successful, and that's a test we're under going now, and you all individually will conclude whether this has been successful or not. >> yes, i think the point about independence is absolutely vital to me. you know, i'm a scholar. i have a reputation to depend. i don't want to write a hack
7:15 pm
history, you know, if it comes across as some glossy corporate promotional document, then who exercises this? on a whole series of levels, and it's not good for my reputation, although i have a get out of jail free card. [laughter] in the end if someone says, well, you haven't told the whole truth, i can say my lips are saled. this power is greater here and restricting me from doing that. i haven't had to play that card, and i don't need to play that card, but there is a sense in which by being the person sufficiently trusted and chosen and there's a selection process, the only person in the frame -- it was funny the recruitment process is like a mixture of the new and old style. the new style went like this. you're at your oxbridge college and you're tapped on the
7:16 pm
shoulder by a mysterious well-dressed man saying i might have something interesting for you. come have dinner with me at my club. you'd do that, and would i be interested in the possibility of having privileged access to the archives of mi6 to write a historical work in relation to the upcoming events. yes, of course, this is the holy grail, nobody sees it at all. they don't release documents that are exempt from the legislation. they are exempt from freedom of information under which is a kind of, holy grail there.
7:17 pm
even better, bar bra will be alarmed at this to be select any book you want in a bookstore and run out of door with them, and which is not to be encouraged i'm sure. [laughter] so, so there's these conflicting, you know, attractions. i'm taken up to the high mountain, this can be yours. there are temptations to this, so those temptations have to be tempered by, you know, professionalism and, you know, the ethics that a professional clear in history might have given me. in the end, you don't have to trust me actually about this. you look at the book and make up your own mind. that's all i can do, and that's what i want. it's the, you no know -- you know, i want my historian
7:18 pm
peers and some think because i was chosen, i'm the worst person to do the job. [laughter] that disqualifies me completely, but that's just the way it is. i was never going to give up a lifetime, once in a lifetime opportunity to write the only, the first but the only history of this organization. nobody else gets that job. this is, you know, it's hard to resist, and, of course, there's no pressure there because nobody else gets to do it. this thing stands and falls on the quality of the professionalism that i can bring it. on one level, i'm a historian. i have 30 years experience of doing this. that's what i do, so writing the history in one sense is not the difficult bit, actually, i mean, the subject matter is interesting and sensational in some areas, but that's what i do. that's my proafertion. the -- profession. the interesting thing was negotiating it out of the
7:19 pm
building, and that's where the risks come in and where there might be risks for the service swelt for me. i don't know if you wanted to look at the problems and edginess of the material you couldn't release. >> yeah, we both might talk about risk in that way. more than i realized at the beginning, i, we, in the service were taking a risk by allowing this project to proceed because once it did proceed, it was pretty unthinkable that it was going to stop, you know, once we were committed, we were going to have to go through to the end. can you hear me all right? yeah. we were going to have to go through to the end. the reality was neither i nor anybody in the service though we had some of our own in-house historians, no one could know for certain what was in the archive. it was stretching over 40 years, and there clearly was a risk
7:20 pm
that either there would be individual stories or issues which will be there which when revealed in public would be shocking, not just embarrassing. i mean, there's embarrassing stories in the book as you'll see when you read it, but i mean, so shocking some kind of answer to which we would be ashamed given the period of history which was being covered and the terrible things that have happened in that period although we were always clear our country was on the right side of the argument. it didn't matter, that risk was there. the other risk, probably a more likely one it would have seemed at the end of the day it's not a particularly good story. that -- there's not enough excitement or enough achievement that would be more failures than successes, and the service would come out looking not too brilliant, and there was, has been a perception out there for many years since
7:21 pm
the great histories of the british intelligence in the second world war written in the late 1970s that the big thing about british intelligence in the second world war was defective and the greatest intelligence achievement ever, the code breaking in the second world war and that is overshadowed the human intelligence work of sis, and that's quite a widely perceived idea around the place, and didn't add up much in the second world war. that was a risk that will be somehow confirmed. i was not as conscious of those risks as perhaps i should have been because some how knowing my service as i did, i was a profound faith, just a basic faith, that when the story was told properly in its entirety by a professional, it would come out right, and i believe it has. actually, it's come out better
7:22 pm
than i really had expected in my rational moments. now, that is the risk from my point of view. of course, a more tech my call level -- technical level and procedural risk, but at the tactical level the risk would be that we just wouldn't be able to say or to allow the historian to including? which he really felt fundamental he had to include. there's bound to be tensions. of course, this is the historian's instipght and sense -- instinct and sense to publish anything he can certainly with the identities with as many significant officers as we can and techniques where he can, and naturally the instinct of the service is to protect that where they have to, and there has been tensions around that. i ask you now what he feels about those tensions, and whether given his awareness of
7:23 pm
the risks that he was taking on when he started this whether he feels now at the end that it's come out satisfactory from that point of view? >> well, i mean, my job as a historian is to reveal secrets, to tell the open story as openly as possible, as transparently as possible with a apparatus and range of all these things. the service's instinct is to keep secrets so there's inevitably going to be tension there, and from a very early stage i discovered that there was difficulty, but a prohibition, for example, on naming agents. if you're working for or spying for the british intelligence against a german in 1933 or 34 or 35, the compact that is given to you by the services that you're secret is safe with us
7:24 pm
forever inperpetuity, this is a nonnegotiateble contract, in fact, what runs through the book and the making of the book is trust. it's that governments trust their intelligence organizations to be straight and to speak as it were truth on to power, and they trust their intelligence organizations not to go off the rails. the intelligence organization -- the public,ed wider public should trust them, not unconditionally because you need accountability in these areas, but that is essential trust between the case officer and agent is a core relationship, and i know that from a very early stage, and that under no circumstances would -- it's like i get asked this one day by a journalist what put you
7:25 pm
in this and no, of course he wouldn't. he'll go to jail before revealing sources. that's that relationships. i was going to say secrets of the confessional. that's tough in the church today and there's a man who might abuse the secrecy of the confessional. [laughter] that's not a good analogy, and i don't want to transpass and other people -- anyway -- [laughter] we move on. i write the official history, that's another one. i'm not going to write that one, but if you had spied for britain against germany in 1935, come 1945 you might be pleased to tell your stoifer, -- story, and many people did. many people write their stories after war. many agents told their own story and revealed their relationship with them and the mi6, then i could name them, that's fine.
7:26 pm
another category of people who did they they spied for mi6, and they didn't. it's not just enough to say i spied for british intelligence. i had to find some corroborating proof of this in the closed archive. that was a, you know, a quite important restriction. the second level is the question of officers. there's a distinction to be meat with officer -- to be made with officers and agents. james bond is an officer. officers are on the central staff, the establishment of the organization. an officer is usually, though not -- usually a british national, and will employ someone else who is a foreign national to do the satisfying for him or her as it happens to be, and i tried to persuade the service to have a
7:27 pm
moving headline things on that building in south london that you see in the movies and say james bond is an officer, not an agent. [laughter] just to get the message over, but it was not practical apparently and the building isn't the right shape or something. i don't know. [laughter] historically, the agency has never named officers, and unless, in fact, until the publication of this book, the only officers named or coshedded with the agencies were the chiefs, and then beyond that, the only people officially acknowledged as a associated with the agency were the chiefs and me and my full-time research assistance from queens university in belfast who did all the hard work. i'm sorry they're not here, but budgets are tight these days. [laughter] but i'm bringing them back a souvenir from the spy museum, so
7:28 pm
that will be all right. a little pen, they'd like that. [laughter] for the first time it was agreed that i could name officers. many of the names are out there, you know, the alleged models for james bopped, but the -- bond, but the service and until this moment in the book self-officially acknowledged people as members and officers of the service. that's a real advance. that's a point where there's a change from one situation to another situation. it doesn't mean that i was able to per miscue lousily name officers because there's a role problem about this. people who work today for the service do not say what they do. it's unlike the cia. i remember going to a conference 15 years ago and a man produces a card from his pocket and it says cia.
7:29 pm
so there is stuff in that sense, you know, and important stuff revealed certainly for the first time. i don't know, i mean, if you want -- are there -- we want to talk a little bit before we open it to questions, but just about individual spies, are there any you'd like to draw,ed reader's tangs too if >> yeah, i would. there's two or three particular operations that i would like to menges here. one, that i appreciate and fascinates me in particular because i'm intelligence officer, a case officer, that's what i spend almost all my clear doing, and there are some very fine individual agent operations described in this story, but none finer than that of tr-16. that was the code name given to this agent standing for tinsly
7:30 pm
the head of the first world war of rotterdam, a service naval engineer, and was a volunteer as many of the best sources are in the 1914 british intelligence in rotterdam. he had previously been in the imperial german navy but was sacked because he insulted a relative of the kaida. he had a classic motivation, and he was taken on. it's the dream of a foreign intelligence service to have and individual source, this one individual source at the very heart of your most important target. that's the best thing you can do. that is worth any number of third or -- second or third division sources.
7:31 pm
you want to have them too, but that critical character can make so much difference. on the 31st of may in 1916 and the first of june in 1916, a battle took place. when the german high seas fleet came and was destroyed by the more powerful british grand fleet of the royal navy, flicked away and got back to port, and immediately put the story out that a, they slipped away and they missed their chance, and of course it was expected to destroy it because the royal navy was expected to dominate the sea, and not only that, but it escaped without too much damage where it inflicted significant damage on the grand fleet, so it was maybe worse from the british point of view. on the second of june, 1916, instructions went from london to rotterdam to brief the task,
7:32 pm
tr-16 to visit germany and submit a report on the estate of the high seas fleet. they got the instructions that day and went into germany and the next month, four weeks, he was in ten naval dock yards and saw really pretty comprehensibly the ships from battle, and on june 10 we got a detailed account of the high seas fleet that it suffered much more damage than admitted in public. that was sent immediately to the add mirty and you can see on the copy of the report somebody wrote in it across the top 100%. now that is what to a purist
7:33 pm
intelligence work is about, and for someone like me working all my life for a human intelligence service, that's what it's about. i'd also draw your attention to two other stories which are slightly different in character. one refers to the work against the p1s and p2s, the flying bomb, and the rockets which were targeted from july 1944 until almost the end of the war in march of 1945 against london, the only major western city that's actually been the subject of sustained missile attack. this work on the secret weapons on the gang in 1942. in late 1942, the first reports came in from sis agents who visited germany. they were not british nationals,
7:34 pm
of course. they couldn't visit germany, but they were agents working for other country nationalities, particularly from scanned knave ya, and that was the first indication we had something was up, and that was during 1943, and in april of 1943 a volunteer came to the embassy in switzerland, a mutual country, and left a detailed report of the main center for the b1 and be-weapons. -- b-weapons. initially, they didn't take this report seriously. they sent it back to london thinking they will not be interested in this, and bang, a message came back saying this is interesting stuff. get what you can. in august 1943, substantially, not entirely on the basis of that reporting, significantly on that basis, the raf on the 19th
7:35 pm
of august launched a raid and had substantial damage causing much of the work to be transferred else where and delay the work for two to three months at least. there were subsequent raids and a fairly large number of intelligence reports coming from various groups including resistance groups in france and belgium and many of the leaders of those groups lost their lives once they were caught, and the overall effort enabled constant attacks against the sites. those delays were critical. if the be-bomber or the be-1 -- b-1 was launched on london before d-day rather than a month afterwards, there would have been a tremendous effect on our
7:36 pm
timing. >> i think if we -- i think we ought to stop talking. we can talk forever about in because it's full of stories, but what we want to do, i think, is give you an opportunity to ask your questions. yeah? >> yes, the british were very active in the first world war and in the post-war period in the soviet union, and the soviet intelligence devised an operation known as the trust, and what insights could you give us about that? what was sis's involvement, and was there a post postmortem or damage assessment done of that? that's my question. >> it was in essence to lure the enemies in and persuade them
7:37 pm
that they were dealing with opposition groups within the soviet union in a classic type of sting operation, and it did for the ace of spies among other old ones you may have heard of. he was an able man, a man of many per sewn thats and disguys who was taken up and hire the originally by a chief man of the service who said this guy is a complete scale wag and has done everything and be everywhere, but i think he can be useful to us with a slightly different emphasis. he is useful and provides a lot of information, early information from the soviet union from south russia in the first instance, and we have some of the reports in the books, quotations from the examples of them and later from moscow and
7:38 pm
st. petersberg itself. this is one of the interesting things about riley, the ace of spies. his political commitment, he comes spies against the soviet union or went spying for the british because hi wanted to bring down the regime, and that gradually populated all his activities to such an extent that he was blinded todd necessity -- to the necessities of intelligence gathering and the bigger picture and began as it were mixing politics and intelligence with in his case fatal consequences is precisely the trust that lured him through, and this was one the unfortunates -- there was an sis man who rather encouraged him. he was slightly attached from the brits at this stage when he comes back, but then he sees his
7:39 pm
old pals in estonia i think it was and he says, it's safe for you to go into the soviet union at this moment, and he never came back. the trust is an example of the very successful soviet operation against penetration by mi6 to which they did not succeed at that moment. >> he was not really acting on central sis orders in his final -- >> no. >> he was not really acting on central sis orders from london in his final period as a spy. >> yeah, he was flying so low. he had become a maverick. >> during the interneed yarr years between the first world war and between the beginning and middle of the second world war, the mi6 helped the oss and
7:40 pm
the united states develop and, you know, began to, i guess, have its early developments. what underscored that development? i understand that, you know, the german crypt logical machines, the ig anything ma, other than the inanything ma, what enabled the british to organize the americans from basically being a scattered naval and military intelligence to a centralized intelligence system? >> well, okay. i think the anglo-american intelligence in the second world war is crucial, and crucial to that most close of all alliances which, you know, there's a special relationship, it's in the second world war, and within that relationship, it's an intelligence relationship. what happens is the head of the mi6, head of the station in north america who is a canadian,
7:41 pm
bill stephenson. he's a very troublesome character here but did important thing and spent later years burning his reputation that it underminds it. it's a greek tragedy to say the least. it's hard to distinguish what he did to get people to say what he did after the war. nevertheless, here again is a human intelligence, close human intelligence dimension. he is friends with bill donovan, first world war hero, irish american, fighting at 69 qiepped of thing. he encourages donovan to create an american equivalent to boost mi6 and the special operations
7:42 pm
organization. there are problems with that as well that we can disgust later if you like, and don ran and roosevelt were classmates in college. you have a human dimension to bring in an important component of as it were modern war fair which the united states for various reasons, institutional rivalry, sort of a studiousness and gentlemen don't greet other gentlemen, we don't need to know about the rest of the world because we are sufficient unto ourselves. that contributed to a foreign intelligence cay trass trough fee. nevertheless, when the challenge emerges in this second world war, the united states got off very quickly to develop precisely that. >> yeah, i've always been rather cautious myself about claiming too big a role for british intelligence in the creation of
7:43 pm
the american special services because there was a period when he was very important. certainly there was a perception on the american side that the british saw themselveses as being superior in this area and threatening to gobble up american capability because they had such a head start. the reality is once resources were applied from it from the united states, they got on with it quickly and developed a massive capability of their own which was well beyond any capability we were ever likely to have. >> thank you. >> i have a question that's sort of goes to the fact it's the oldest institution in this sort of timeless. you hear when you read the histories of places about the squirrely nature of the people working there, but it occurs to me the case officers have to be a little strange in their own way in thatoff you have well
7:44 pm
motivated that betray their country or it's a transaction and they want paid from the black budget, and then there's people that blackmail into it. i wonder if you could talk about one level back in management, and how you deal with the fact that case offers might not, you know, eventually get jaded or feel sad about the fact that they were persuading these people to risk the lives to betray their own countries. >> i ought to ask -- >> that's a little awkward i know. >> speak to the eccentricities and so forth. >> i think the ceo sen traceties of case officers -- >> yeah. it seems like it's a strange personality, yeah, i want to persuade people to rat out on their fellow countrymen, you know? >> i don't mind that at all -- [laughter] i've never done so, and i have
7:45 pm
to say, actually, seriously, that in my profession of persuading people to betray whatever it is, i have very rarely come across somebody who i believe to be dishonorable in some way, very rarely. i've never been in a situation where i persuaded somebody to do something against their will or used inappropriate forms of pressure. it's interesting in the book to see how that was something regarded as, you know, dishonorable and unacceptable and not right for gentlemen from the very beginning of thes is is. it's one of those thing the of the culture of the service. the best agents don't work for reasons like that. they work for you because they believe what you're doing, and in one or two cases, i worked with exceptional people with exceptional high standards of integrity and never saw it as
7:46 pm
betraying their country, but saw it as serving a higher or more noble cause because there was something wrong, not with their country, but with the people running it. it's quite possible, absolutely possible, in fact, normal, to stick to the straight and narrow in that way. it's up to you to believe me. >> i guess i made you sound worse than i thought you were. [laughter] >> yeah, you did. [laughter] >> are there any case officers unusual, oh, i never thought i'd go into this job when i set out to study at oxbridge. >> yeah. well, in my day, of course, that was true because we didn't know the service expissed. [laughter] you didn't have the opportunity to join it, but now my colleagues in the colleagues in the service are normal people in the way you describe, and abnormal in the sense they are able people and extremely
7:47 pm
intelligent people and a few individualists, but essentially team players. >> i'd like to ask a couple other probing questions. first of all for john, perhaps, in the period we're talking about, 1909 to 1949, what is it that you are least proud of? what do you wish had not actually happened in the history of the -- and the seblgd -- second question has to do with the last refuge of a scoundrel. i'm wondering -- i mean, i've heard people say in the service one is expected to put one's country before one's family, for example, and that one should not, you know, hesitate basically to lie to one's life or one's loved ones if it really compromises the history the of the, you know,
7:48 pm
interest of the country. to what extent do you sub vibe to that view? >> on the first question, there is a lot in that book of which i'm not proud. the totality, i am proud, but individual instances, there are many which i'm not proud, too many. one has to say because keith hasn't spared us enough in that. it was a disastrous situation. now, of course, sorry it cannot be told because the book stops in 1949, and people think the decision to stop there is because we didn'tment to tell -- didn't want to tell -- [laughter] that's just conspiracy theory i'm afraid. [laughter] there's untrue for reasons i've indicated, and there's quite enough in the book up to 1949 to make it clear with the wisdom of
7:49 pm
hint sight, what a catastrophic situation it was to have this man at the central of the service. that's one. another obvious one i pick out is the situation in that in 1939 when two officers from the rotterdam station, a station that formed heroically, but had a disstays rows start in the second world war and two officers were lured into a trap who convinced them they were plotting to overthrow hitler, and they were lured to a cafe on the dutch-german border and kidnapped from the cafe, and spent the war in a concentration camp being questioned and given away a lot of our information. it could have been worse. one was a senior officer who just got carried away. i think he said in his book, the
7:50 pm
moral of that story is that vanity took over. somehow or another, he could have ended the war on his own account which was never going to happen. he was backed up by some pretty foolish politicians too. that often happens by the way. [laughter] on the second point, the last refuge of scoundrel, well, i'm sure there's a large number of patriotic people here who feel strongly about this and service to their country, and i don't suppose many of them are scran drels. -- scran scoundrels, and pay treatism -- pay tree titch drives public service and what drives people in the service throughout the period of this book, and i can testify to the fact that it's exactly the same way it helps
7:51 pm
people to this day. >> what about service to the country you love? that was the question. >> well, if every soldier who goes off and fights for his country and puts his life at risk at mar or for a military campaign which is what a lot are doing now, that's what you're doing. it makes it sound awful if you put it in a national or personal experience, it happens all the time, but because a judgment has to be made, those two fundamentally go where your duty takes you. i don't get the feeling looking back at my colleagues in the office who work extremely hard, they're also great family people, men, and women, and if you ask them, they'd probably say their families come first, and their behavior, and there many instances where it doesn't
7:52 pm
look like that, but that's true in a lot of organizations that are high-powered and successful when you have high-powered and successful people working for them. i adopt think it's -- i don't think it's much different. >> we're running out of time, so we have time for two more questions, and then we got to shut down. >> there was a story that took place at the end of the world war i. brit unrestricted access intelligence knew or -- british intelligence knew or felt like they were not going to do it and sent in and operative into germany and by the time world war ii took place he was a major general responsibility for getting -- okay, responsible for getting the germans to use up their resources. am i making any sense here? >> well, i'm sorry, i wish it were true, but it isn't, or at
7:53 pm
least i have found no evidence of that. one of the things that the british didn't do, and certainly in the period i'm looking at, as opposed to the kinds of things the soviets did, they didn't work at putting in long-term penetration agents. the best agents come for the mi6 are walk-ins, volunteers, like tr-16, a number of other good examples of that. the high est -- the agents with the highest level of access to the secrets of the enemy tend to be not someone sent in as a sort of graduate intern to some, you know, germ nan bureaucratic position or army or anything like that, and inzed in 1919 germany was the potential enemy, war to end all wars, and there's issues not taking sufficiently seriously the germman challenge and paying too much attention or
7:54 pm
exclusively too much attention to the soviets. it's not part of the motive's agenda as it was in the first 40 years, and the officers of that, the soviets, and con concentration on recruit k clever young men at the best universities with the best backgrounds worked to their benefit. they worked in entirely different ways, and a, i have in knowledge that this happened. i'm sorry, we can write a novel about it. i've been doing that, and in other cases, even if, it's not the way service works anyway? >> okay, last question. >> hi, i have a question about the holocaust because i'm assuming that mi6, you know, had information about the concentration camps, and had
7:55 pm
vigorous internal debates about the disadvantages of trying to do something about stopping the wholesale slaughter of the people. i wanted to hear, you know, from both of you about the internal debate and what some of the decisions that were made. >> well, that's an extremely interesting question, and it's something i looked at from the very beginning because, again, you know, it's astonishing, hindsight is a wonderful thing, and at the end of my period in 1949, i couldn't write about it as it was then. i had to use hindsight in that republic. the holocaust is another. it's hard for people to not have known when we know the full horror of that appalling experience, and yet, when you go back to the contemporary documents, it's -- it's unnervingly absent.
7:56 pm
now, is it because they didn't care? is it because they didn't know? is it because they didn't want to know? is it because they couldn't believe it could be possible? is it because they maybe knew, and it wasn't relevant to winning the war? you know, there's a whole series of difficult, kind of conclusions to be drawn from this. all of which end up with the same result, that is, you know, unbelievable numbers of people being killed on an industrial scale, and the question you asked me was the question i was asked by the son of a senior member of the service, the most senior member of the service, and kenneth ran the free french networks. he was a man with these, very, very senior and very, very important. his son said to me, do you think my dad knew about this?
7:57 pm
how would he feel about it? he, it was equally mystified by the possibility that he might have known and done nothing or how he felt about it? he never discussed it with his father. i was unable -- given the same answer i give you, i'm afraid at one level, i don't know, but it's quite clear from the documents, it wasn't something that the service the asked to investigate by its customer department, and there was certainly information coming through that terrible things were happening, and, you know, there was prosecution, but the absolute, the true nature and scale of the catastrophe were just not apparent and even a hence of it was just not believed. i'm sorry, but that's the answer. >> i'll add an explanation to this. the war was focused on its
7:58 pm
targets and objectives, and you can gather from what we've already said, that was support for invasion of europe, resistance groups in western europe, the weapons, shipping, norway, the turfs, and that's in europe. it wasn't looking in that direction which would explain why, you know, it's not there in the documents, partly because we're asked to look and it wasn't coming its way anyway. it was wholly focused, in fact, the whole country was, on winning the war and putting a stop and an end to nazi germany, which, of course, it did, and that was the best way, although, too late for millions of people, to putting a stop to the holocaust. your question is one that was asked the other day by a russian
7:59 pm
friend of mine who was very unhappy because there was no reference to stalin in keith's book, and no detailed remps to the terrible thing -- reference to the terrible things that happened in the 1930s when millions and millions of people died as a result of what the regime did, and of course, the answer is because the service wasn't working on that. it wasn't it's task, and it wasn't asked to do it, and it just didn't have the resources to do everything. my final point really one of the problems in my service we've always had, and i often had personally is that people expected us or me to know everything about everything. [laughter] that's the result if you'd like, and of course, it can't always be true. >> thank you very much. [applause]

140 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on